The 2019-2020 Minnesota Legislature has proposed legislation that would require an equal (50/50) parenting time schedule for nearly all cases involving custody and parenting time in Minnesota.
HF 887 and HF1666/SF 1295 would change the law that currently creates a presumption that parents are entitled to at least 25% parenting time with their children to a presumption that would mandate 50% parenting time schedules with children in most cases. Not only that, but the bill also eliminates a requirement that Courts consider the age of a child and the child’s relationship with their parents prior to the commencement of an action.
The proponents of this bill argue the following:
- An equal parenting time presumption would encourage children’s ongoing relationships with both parents, particularly fathers.
- It would decrease perceived court system bias against fathers.
- It would limit court discretion.
- It might enhance predictability.
- It might decrease perceived variability of outcomes from different jurisdictions.
- An equal parenting time presumption would change the “starting point” for negotiations between parents because the burden of proof would shift to a parent seeking sole physical custody.
- It might decrease litigation.
- It could might decrease parental conflict by equalizing power between parents.
- An equal parenting time presumption might increase efficiency and reduce some costs.
However, there are still many negative components of creating these presumptions, including the following:
- The Court would not be able to consider the age of the child or the child’s relationship with the parent prior to the case being initiated.
- An equal parenting time presumption would limit the ability of the court to consider the needs of individual children.
- It could be detrimental for children continuously exposed to high levels of parental conflict.
- Equal parenting time might heighten conflict between parents who, for a variety of reasons, are unable to effectively co-parent.
- It would be dangerous for children and victims of domestic violence.
- An equal parenting time presumption could create financial and procedural challenges for low income and unrepresented parents who would be required to carry the burden of proof if they, for any reason, object to joint equal parenting time.
- It would be impractical for some families such as those where parents live in geographically distant locations, children are very young, and/or parents are not married and have never had an ongoing relationship with each other.
- An equal parenting time presumption might increase litigation.
This is a bill to keep an eye on as it could dramatically change the way we handle custody and parenting time cases in Minnesota. If you have any questions concerning custody, parenting time, or your individual rights as the law stands today, contact one of our experienced attorneys for a free consultation.